Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) has urged the Bangladesh government to amend the proposed Digital Security Act to remove provisions that pose a threat to freedom of expression and information.
The new law, approved by the cabinet on Tuesday, is supposed to replace the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act of 2006.
At least 25 journalists and several hundred bloggers and Facebook users were prosecuted under Section 57 in 2017 alone, RSF said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
According to the report, Bangladesh ranks 146th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, said: “The proposed Digital Security Act is not satisfactory, especially as, on several points, it is even more draconian that the previous law.
“We urge the Bangladeshi authorities to withdraw all the provisions that could be used to gag journalists and bloggers.”
He said: “The still vague wording will allow the same abuses as before, benefitting those who do not want freely and independently reported news and information."
"One of the needed amendments is the inclusion of an article requiring that the relevant authorities review complaints thoroughly before initiating any defamation or blasphemy proceedings,” he added.